Christmas Cradle, Christmas Cross

As we were reminded again this morning in the lighting of another advent candle, we are marking a time of waiting—a time in which we sing, “Come, O Come, Emanuel.” It marks the birth of the savior, the Lord Jesus.

In Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus we find a rich cast of characters: Zechariah, a lowly priest from the Hill Country of Judea, and his wife, Elizabeth, who is barren but suddenly finds herself pregnant with a child of promise who will prepare the way of the Lord; and Gabriel, the angel of God who makes these long-awaited announcements; and Mary, the young virgin from Nazareth upon whom the Holy Spirit will come and she will bear a holy child who will be called Son of God. And there are shepherds in the field tending their flocks to which an angel of the Lord announces glorious news of a savior from the City of David, who is the Messiah, the Lord; and the angel is joined by a multitude of the Heavenly host singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven.”

And in the temple there is an aged priest, Simeon, who has long waited to see the Lord’s salvation together with Anna, who praises God and speaks about the child to all those who were looking/waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Zachariah, Elizabeth, Mary, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna are all representative of expectant Israel—waiting for the coming of the messiah. And now they are bearers of the great news that God has come—he has visited his people and has come to give light to those who sit in darkness. The time of jubilee has come.

And these blessed events are wrapped in rejoicing, and glorifying God, and singing and prophesying. The time of waiting is over. Yet we hear the angel say to the shepherds that the child to be born is the savior. And that brings us to this table.

In other words, “the cradle is not only about the birth of the God who came to be with us (Emanuel); it is also about a cross and the God who came to save—who came to die: cradle and cross, womb and tomb, birth and rebirth.”

Advent serves as a reminder that the Christmas story is not complete—there is more to come. And so we are still waiting. So this supper that we share today with all those who are waiting for his return is a commemoration of his death and resurrection. It is a meal that is filled with great joy and hope and expectation as we anticipate the invitation of our Lord to “come,” the table now is spread.

So, as we wait, we sing our songs marking the birth of Jesus. We sing, “Come, O Come Emanuel,” and we pray “Come. Lord Jesus, Come.”

Today we have assembled as the expectant church, and as we gather at this table we are aware that we live between the times—the time that has come and the time that is to come. We have come, not as expectant Israel, but as the expectant church—waiting, in all the promise his resurrection affords, for his return. As we eat this simple meal of bread and wine we do so in anticipation of the feast for which we wait. Thus, we realize that every Sunday is Advent as we await his coming again.

Prayer: O Lord, our God, we give you thanks for sending your son that we might know the blessings of salvation. We give thanks for this meal that serves as a reminder of his death and as a marker of that which is yet to come. As we eat this bread, we ask that you bless it and make it holy. And bless us as we partake of it that we might eat and live.

Come, Lord Jesus, come, Amen

Prayer: O Lord, our God, we thank you for this cup of blessing that we share. We ask you to bless it and make it holy and bless us that we might drink and live.

Come, Lord Jesus, come, Amen

This communion meditation was given by D'Esta Love at the Montgomery Church of Christ, Albuquerque, NM during the Christmas season of 2016.